GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Calvin Pickard’s 23 stops – including a beautiful kick-save at the buzzer – and Chris Terry’s first-period goal were all Grand Rapids needed to kick off its eight-game homestand with a win, as the Griffins defeated the Manitoba Moose 1-0 on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
Pickard’s second shutout of the season wasn’t sealed until less than a second remained. Off a faceoff in the right circle with two ticks left, the Moose won the draw and quickly fed the puck into the left circle for Michael Spacek, whose one-timer was denied by Pickard’s right pad. It was one of four saves Pickard made in the game’s final 68 seconds, after the Moose had pulled Eric Comrie for an extra attacker to try to net the equalizer.
Winless in their previous six at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins (16-19-2-2) have now won two straight overall to pull within a single point of fourth place in the Central Division. Locked in a three-way tie for fifth with Texas and Manitoba, they will host a rematch with the Moose on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Griffins, who entering the night had been shut out in consecutive home games for just the third time in franchise history, snapped their scoreless streak within friendly confines at 174:13 on Terry’s team-leading 14th goal of the season 13:37 into the opening period. Turner Elson forced a turnover along the left boards and got the puck to Terry below the circle, and the AHL All-Star drove the net and stuffed a shot past Manitoba’s Comrie, whom the parent Winnipeg Jets claimed on waivers from Detroit on Dec. 19 after the Red Wings had attempted to assign him to the Griffins. Comrie, though, was brilliant over the course of the frame, keeping the visitors’ deficit at one despite Grand Rapids’ 17-5 shot advantage.
Following a second period in which the shots were 8-8, Manitoba had the upper hand in the third, outshooting Grand Rapids 10-3 as the Moose pressed to knot the score. But Pickard, who grew up in Winnipeg, slammed the door on his hometown team, culminating with his heroics in the final seconds.
Comrie deserved a better fate, finishing with 27 saves for the Moose (18-21-0-0), who lost their conference-high 14th road game of the season in regulation.
The game featured only five minor penalties and three power plays, with the Moose going 0-for-2 and the Griffins 0-for-1.
Notes: The Griffins were bolstered by the additions of three Detroit first-round draft picks. Joe Veleno and Moritz Seider returned to the lineup after missing the last nine games due to the World Junior Championship, while Michael Rasmussen suited up for the first time since Nov. 12 after missing 23 straight games with an injury…The Griffins released defenseman Blake Hillman from his pro tryout following this morning’s practice, returning him to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. He has one assist, four penalty minutes and a plus-one rating in five appearances with Grand Rapids this season.
Three Stars: 1. GR Pickard (W, SO, 23 saves); 2. GR Terry (game-winning goal); 3. MB Comrie (L, 27 saves)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]